Shocking research: Narcissists drawn to Facebook

A study coming out in a psychology journal next month reveals a not-so-hidden conclusion: that it's easy to tell which Facebook members are actively self-promoting.

A team of researchers from the University of Georgia has come to a conclusion that will undoubtedly turn the tech world on its side (ha): if you use Facebook to promote your lovely self, it shows through. Narcissists, or those psychologically defined as "excessively egotistical," will inflate their profiles on the social network with more photos, massive friends lists, and packed activity feeds.

As we used to say on the playground in third grade, duh.

"We found that people who are narcissistic use Facebook in a self-promoting way that can be identified by others," study leader and Ph.D. student Laura Buffardi said in a Live Science article about the study. Past research back in the dinosaur days of the Web had revealed similar conclusions about narcissists and personal Web pages. Imagine how hard it was to self-promote when you had to know how to use HTML to turn the background of your personal homepage pink!

In order to conduct the study, untrained observers were shown Facebook profiles and asked to identify which ones belonged to people who are classified as narcissists. The narcissists' profiles were easy to pick out, the researchers noted.

The report is published in October's issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin academic journal.

"Narcissists might initially be seen as charming, but they end up using people for their own advantage," study co-author W. Keith Campbell said to Live Science. "They hurt the people around them and they hurt themselves in the long run."

So it looks like now the prolific Internet chatter about oversharers, bloggy self-promoters, and "wantrepreneurs" now has some academic basis.

 

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